I was talking to an Architect a few days ago about under counter lighting for a project we’re doing together. She had specified a rope light for this particular project but the topic got me thinking about which under counter lights would provide the best lighting for the money. In general I want under counter lights to be:
#1 BRIGHT – Lots of task lighting is good when you’re cooking and ceiling mounted recessed lights are usually shadowy at the counter level.
#2 EFFICIENT – In my house these lights are on for many hours at a time. Maybe LED or Florescent? Xenon?
#3 LOW PROFILE – I hate seeing lights stick down from under the cabinets so whatever I use it needs to be slim.
I posed this question to Brian Johnson a lighting expert at Lighting Inc on Burnet Road in Austin where I buy most of my lighting packages. Here’s Brian’s response:
“My favorite under counter light these days is a very thin fixture called “Prior T2” by American Lighting. This is a fluorescent fixture but it uses a tiny T2 bulb (these bulbs have a diameter like a pencil). This fixture has the best color rendering of any fluorescent fixture on the market. T2 lamps have an extremely high color rendering index of 90, and if you were to put this next to a xenon or halogen light, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. The T2 lamp is also much more efficient than regular fluorescents and has a lamplife of 10,000 hours. They also come in white, satin nickel and bronze, and will match whatever decor you have in your kitchen or utility room. The one drawback with this fixture is that it is not dimmable. However, if you are looking for an economical UCL that gives you a nice warm light, then the Priori T2 is an excellent choice (much more affordable than LED products). These are on par price wise with most xenon (about $100 for a 30″) Photo below is the Priori T2…
LEDS are here, but they are expensive. I still prefer the T2 due to the price range. Maxim has one that we have on display, and I have used the new tape light in several jobs, but I am only using LED when people really want to be cutting edge or require dimming due to its price. In all honesty, I think fluorescent is still the way to for the next year or so. Don’t get me wrong, the LEDS are super clean looking and cool, but you are looking to closer to $200 for a 30″ section. Photo below is Maxim Lighting CounterMax LED.”
Thanks Brian for you insight. I’ve had florescent T5 Hera SlimLine under counter lights at my house for 2 years now and they see almost constant use. So far I’ve loved them and it looks like this Priori T2 is a nice newer technology florescent than mine. It addresses my three criteria above and comes in at a good price point. -Matt Risinger